Have you ever sat back and wondered how some people publish blog posts that consistently do better than yours?
I have and I desperately wanted to do better.
And that’s what I did.
Along the way I figured out what worked and what didn’t.
I figured out how to get more eyeballs on my content, get more social shares, more comments and more email subscribers.
Now, I want to help YOU to do the same.
Are you ready?
Create a headline that reaches out and grabs your audience
Before anyone even reads your content – they’ll read your headline.
It’s the first and ultimate point of failure for your content.
If your headline sucks then you’ll struggle to gain any traction at all.
But, on the other hand – if your headline compels people to read your content; that’s when the magic really happens.
Some advice that has proven to work for me, and I think it’ll work well for you too:
- Numbers work great, but when numbers are too high people may be inclined to avoid reading because they don’t have the time to read or even implement your advice. Offset by using words like “bit-sized”.
- People love to learn ‘how to’ do something.
- Incorporate words that you don’t usually see in headlines. For example, great becomes incredible and easy becomes effortless.
- Sometimes you may need to avoid jargon.
- Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it will compel people to check out your content.
- Controversy will catch people’s attention but use with caution.
- Make a promise that is realistic and at least within the realm of possibilities for your audience to achieve.
- Leave an unanswered question and you will spark curiosity.
Above all else, remember that your headline is a promise and it’s your job to deliver on that promise with the rest of your content. It’s true that certain headlines will get you more blog traffic but if your content doesn’t deliver, the result will be a negative first impression.
And if you really want to wow your audience – take the expectations you have set with your headline and blow them out of the water with your content.
The bottom line is that a better headline will get you more traffic
Make each sub-heading tell its own story
Have you noticed how I’ve worded each of the sub-headings in this post?
Instead of just listing out; headlines, sub-headings, visuals, shareable quotes etc – I’ve turned each one of them into their own headline.
As Steve Krug (Author of Don’t Make Me Think) says:
“We don’t read pages. We Scan them.”
Think of writing your sub-headings like how you would write your headlines.
Write them to tell their own story, reach out and grab your audience.
When you write for power skimmers, you are taking an important step into keeping your readers around for longer.
And most importantly, reading more of your content.
Create eye-catching visuals that invoke emotion
Eye-catching visuals make a difference.
Shortly after I started putting more effort into the visual content on my site, I received positive feedback and even got some mentions from other blogs.
My content even got more shares, especially on Pinterest which can be an incredible source of traffic.
The beautiful thing about this is that anyone can do it.
It’s far easier than what you might think.
Just creating something like this took me a few minutes:
How to get started creating your own high impact visuals
The best starting point you can get here is using a free tool called Canva – it has predefined templates to help you make your images look awesome.
You can also purchase stock photos directly from within Canva for $1 each.
Sites full of free stock photo’s (that don’t suck)
In addition to the stock photos within Canva, there are plenty of great sites that will give you access to free stock photos:
Important note: be careful when you use free stock photo’s, some sites don’t check whether an image can legally be used. This can come back to haunt you in the future and cost you a lot. For more information on what you can/can’t use, check out this post by Peg Fitzpatrick – it’s got plenty of resources to help you. (H/T to Benjamin in the comments for mentioning this).
Other resources to help you make better visuals
If you want to start creating eye-catching visuals that help you and your blog stand out, these resources will help you:
- How To Make Your Blog Images Awesome – Even If You Aren’t Picasso
- How To Add Text To Your Images Like A Pro
- How To Create a Blog Post Image That Gets Noticed And Drives Traffic
- 7 Ways To Use Lip-Smacking Visual Content To Build A Blog Audience
Embed shareable quotes to make your content go further
I’ve seen a lot of people using ‘click to tweet’ links within their content to encourage social sharing.
And it seems to be working quite well.
Some of them look like this:Embed shareable quotes to make your content go furtherClick To Tweet
To generate this box, I’m using a WordPress plugin called Social Warfare.
It’s a premium plugin (only $24/year – cancel anytime), there is a free alternative called ‘Click To Tweet’ but I opted for the paid plugin because it also took care of adding eye-catching social sharing buttons too.
You can then integrate with URL shorteners such as Bitly, add your Twitter username and more.
I’ve already had some success with basic ‘tweet this’ links, so my hope is to use this plugin to drive even better results.
Leverage the influence of others
Whatever stage your blog is at – this will help you to get to the top.
In most niches there are a lot of people who already have a large, established audience.
You can leverage that.
And it’s easier than you might think.
I’ve built entire businesses this way – it works.
You need to find out who these influencers are
If you have been working in your niche for a while, you may already be able to list quite a few names of people who have influence without using any tools.
To speed this process up, tools like BuzzSumo can pull in results from Twitter and will cost you nothing to get started.
Software like Authority Spy can pull in results from multiple social networks while listing actual social profiles and contact information, and while it’s not free, it can be a huge time saver. The depth of the data isn’t what you’d find in some of the more expensive tools, but it’s easy to use and can serve as an effective starting point for you.
Say awesome stuff about these influencers
People love it when you say awesome stuff about them, and in most cases this is essentially a ‘validation’ of the influencer(s) that you’re talking about.
That’s what makes this so powerful; people like to tell their followers when other people say great things about them.
Don’t say awesome stuff without meaning it though – that’s not going to help.
For example, if you’re working on a new blog post and an influencer in your niche has a relevant piece of content that would add value for your readers – link out to it.
You could take this a step further and actually involve influencers in your content directly.
In most situations, these influencers are usually industry experts so you can approach them and ask them for a quote to add to your post.
This works best when you make it a shareable quote, like I mentioned earlier.
You could also do an interview or a group interview – both can work very well.
The step that most people get completely wrong
Whether you’ve asked an influencer to give you a quote for a post, or you’ve just mentioned them in a post – you need to let them know about the post.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Email them to give them a heads up
- @mention them on Twitter
- Tag them on Google+
- Tag them on Facebook
As a form of communication, email is the more direct root – I’ve had much better results with that.
And you don’t always have to openly ask them to share your content. You can get good results by just emailing them the link.
As far as the social media mentions are concerned, you can get some great results with G+ and Facebook.
Twitter can also work well, but the life of a tweet is much shorter than updates on other networks.
IMPORTANT: Remember that you can over do things here so pick several methods of communication and space them out.
If you actually ask someone directly to share your content, limit that call to action to a single communication channel. If you use others then only mention them passively with no direct ask to share your content.
DON’T DO THIS: A while back someone tried this with me and in the space of an hour I got:
- Mentioned on Twitter
- Emailed directly
- A message sent directly to my personal FB page
- A message sent directly to my Blogging Wizard FB page
- Tagged in an Facebook status
It’s good to get a heads up on this type of thing, but you don’t want to make anyone feel like they’re being hounded.
Most people would just get annoyed and then the result is that a relationship with an influencer is burned.
Ultimately, remember to go easy, be patient, observe blogger outreach best practices and remember that these are busy people that you’re dealing with.
Not all people will end up sharing your content. That’s to be expected, some will if you do this in the right way and the results can be phenomenal.
Offer something exclusive for each post
People love exclusive content.
And you can create exclusive content that will do one of two things:
- Expand the reach of your blog post using social media
- Build your email list
Understandably, creating exclusive content can take a lot of extra time – it’s worth doing but time is always a factor.
A great alternative would be to offer a PDF version of your blog post, it’s not as compelling but I’ve had some great success with it in the past.
Using exclusive content to get more social shares
A while back I published some posts where I offered exclusive templates for those who shared the posts.
I added a social content locker (WP Sharely) which enabled me to hide a link to the template until someone shared.
On some posts this managed to get me a 10-25% increase in social shares.
This is how it looked:
There are definitely a few things which I could have done better – the templates that I offered related to a single heading within a blog post in most cases.
This usually resulted in the content locker getting buried in the post.
I could have gotten better results if I prepared a template that was relevant to the entire post and moved the content locker closer to the top of the post.
Use exclusive content to build your email list
Recently I published a blog post where I offered a PDF version of that post – I added around 150 new email subscribers just by doing that.
What I did was create a LeadBox using LeadPages.
A LeadBox is a 2-step opt-in box that appears when a special link is clicked.
Note: find some great alternatives to using LeadBoxes by LeadPages in this post.
The amazing thing about this is that the link can be used on any website and analytics are tracked from within your LeadPages account.
I originally bought LeadPages to help me create landing pages VERY quickly but the LeadBox feature presented a great opportunity.
Also, LeadPages handles the delivery of the PDF file, so that when someone entered their email, they’d get the PDF emailed to them straight away – no messing around.
Then all I had to do was to create a button that would become my call to action. This was just a basic image which I added the LeadBox link to.
I’ve used a similar tactic in this post, but there’s a twist.
Instead of a PDF version which includes the same content as the blog post – this PDF version includes that and a lot more.
Here’s a question for you:
When a reader finishes reading a piece of content on your website, what do you want them to do next?
Do you want them to read another piece of content, sign up for your mailing list, buy a product or leave a comment?
One of the most popular goals that bloggers have for their readers is to leave a comment.
This works great because it’s all about generating engagement and developing discussion around your blog posts – it gets more people involved and shows to other readers that people are engaging with you.
This can be as simple as ending your blog post with a question.
I quite like how Copyblogger do this; they typically have a very strong call to action where they invite readers to share their thoughts.
The only difference here is that Copyblogger have now closed their comments and now ask readers to respond on Google+.
A bold move that won’t work for all blogs, but, it’s a great example of a really strong call to action that encourages users to comment.
An opportunity that most bloggers miss
I know what it’s like.
Spending days on a piece of content to get it just right then after it goes live – nothing happens.
Your analytics looks like a ghost town.
I’ve been there but I quickly learned that there was an important step that I was missing.
The truth is that clicking publish is just the beginning.
The next step is to spend a significant amount of time promoting your blog posts, but now the question is – how?
- Email your list about your blog post
- Add internal links to existing blog posts which are relevant (preferably traffic generating posts)
- Connect your blog to Triberr and join relevant tribes (sharing other people’s content helps)
- Leverage niche social bookmarking sites (for example, ManageWP.org for WordPress and BizSugar.com for business related content)
- Contact anyone mentioned in the post and ask them to help
- Create a unique graphic for Pinterest and share it to Pinterest group boards
- Repurpose your content into a video, slidedeck or eBook
- Make your blog post the centre of a guest posting campaign (think about the visibility benefit rather than the SEO benefit)
- Buy cheap traffic using a content recommendation service like Outbrain (I’ve managed to get traffic as cheap as $0.05 and that’s for engaged visitors)
- Find out who in your niche is doing any industry roundups and ask them to feature your content (just run a quick Google search for “niche”+”roundup” or something similar)
Putting it all together
When you use the right tactics you can get mind-blowing results.
You have to be prepared to put the extra time in but when you see the results – you’ll be glad that you did.